The federal election campaign is well underway, although in actuality it has been going on for months now. True politicians never stop campaigning since they know no matter how good they may be (or think they are), it’s all or nothing on election day.
The heart of any election is door knocking. That is where the elections are won or lost. In the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding all the major parties have been out door knocking for months, trying to win support and identify voters.
I’ve knocked on thousands of doors, both for myself when I ran municipally, as well as for other candidates running provincially and federally. No matter who I’ve door knocked for, I’ve found the same to be true.
First, on any given day, there will only be one or two people, if that, who are hostile when they answer their door. The ones who slam the door are easy. You just walk away. Hostility is rare. In general, people are polite, interested and open to having someone come to their door.
Second, on any given day, there will be dozens who want to talk. They want to discuss what the government has done or should do, or why they will or won’t be supporting your candidate or another party. They want to know what the candidate will do for them. People who want to talk want someone to listen.
Good door knockers know when to move on though, as a five-minute conversation stretches to 10, and then 20 minutes or more. Knowing how and when to end a conversation is an important skill of a door knocker.
Third, there are many people who are certain of who they’ll support. Some say “I always vote for your candidate/party” or “no thanks, I support someone else.” That’s all they say. Either way, it’s good news for a door knocker. Political door knockers are always happy to find supporters. On the other hand, if someone supports someone else, there is no point in expending extra effort if a person’s mind is made up. Once someone has made up their mind, the door knockers move on.
Fourth, there are the people in the middle, who have not decided. Door knockers are there to give undecided voters more information.
Some people I’ve talked to say they want to wait until closer to voting day to make up their mind. Outwardly, I thank them and encourage them to check out the candidate’s website. Inwardly, I’m shouting “YOU’VE HAD THE LAST FOUR YEARS.” Elections are essentially a job interview. Just like when someone is being hired for any job, the job interview is only one part. One looks at what the individual has done for the last five or ten years as well. But many, many people I’ve talked to wait for the official start of the election campaign to decide.
The hardest for me are the people who say “I don’t vote.” One frequent reason is that they don’t think it makes any difference. They are skeptical of all politicians. Some people have told me that all politicians are crooks or are only self-interested. It’s sad to hear the cynicism. Maybe I’m a glass half-full type of person, but I think if we live in a country where politicians are charged and convicted of criminal offenses, that’s a good thing. It means our laws are working. There are many places in the world where corruption and undemocratic practises mean politicians have free rein. But one politician being charged with the crime does not mean all are guilty, just as one doctor, accountant or realtor being charged wouldn’t.
I’m also sad because I’ve met hundreds and hundreds of politicians across Canada at all levels of government, and the vast majority are ones I have high regard for in terms of their hard work and integrity. But, people who believe otherwise are apt not to vote. I’m hoping the Senate debacle doesn’t discourage too many people to vote.
At the end of the day, the more doors knocked on, the more face-to-face conversations, the better for any candidate. When there are one-on-one conversations between two people, there is more trust and understanding, and in the end this translates to more votes.
Expect a few knocks on the door.
— Nancy Bepple is a recovering politician and local news junkie. She expects she will never recover from her love of the banjo.